Thank whatever deity will listen for short weeks.
With the New York Giants falling to 0-2, having the short turnaround, means they have no time to dwell on their second blown 10-point lead in as many weeks. That also means that they need to quickly shift their focus to the game ahead of them, the Washington Redskins on Thursday Night Football.
The good news is that the Giants game plan will both be simple and a rehash from Week 1:
If the Giants want to win the game Thursday night, they need to slow down Washington's rushing attack and force Kirk Cousins and Pierre Garcon to beat them.
Kirk Cousins is not Tony Romo, nor is Garcon Dez Bryant. Even if Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie cannot clear the concussion protocol in time for the game, Prince Amukamara matches up well with Garcon, and Cousins can be prone to turning the ball over when he has to win the game on his own.
The hard part will be slowing down Washington's rushing attack. The Redskins offensive line, which looked like a near-fatal liability in preseason, has come together to average better than 150 yards rushing per game. With Alfred Morris averaging 4.2 yards per carry and Matt Jones averaging 6 yards per carry, stopping Washington's run game is easier said than done.
The good news is that while the Giants haven't pressured quarterbacks the way they are accustomed to, they have been stout against the run thus far in 2015. Against the vaunted Cowboys' offensive line, the Giants limited Dallas to 81 yards on 22 carries (3.7 yards per carry). The next week they held the Atlanta Falcons to 57 yards on 21 caries (2.7 yards per carry). The Giants' success has come from greatly improved discipline on the defensive front, with players -- for the most part -- filling the appropriate gaps, and making sound tackles.
The secondary in particular has been impressive in its tackling. Amukamara has always been a very good tackler, but the Giants' secondary as a unit is not allowing many yards after contact.
Helping the Giants' cause is the mid-week addition of Kenrick Ellis. The massive defensive tackle was with the Giants throughout training camp -- when he was one of the Giants' highest-rated players by Pro Football Focus -- and preseason before he was surprisingly cut before the start of the season. Ellis specializes in dominating the middle of the line of scrimmage and preventing runs between the tackles.
Also potentially providing a shot in the arm to the Giants' beleaguered defense is the return of middle linebacker Jon Beason. While Uani Unga has given his all to the defense, Spags' scheme thrives when there is a middle linebacker capable of acting as a Field General, a role the intelligent and experienced Beason thrives in. His ability to line up the defense, facilitate communication, play the chess game before the snap, as well as his ability to play downhill have been sorely missed by the Giants.
The Giants will need to figure out a way to defend the quick passes, pitch outs, and bubble screens that chipped at the defense and made it next to impossible for the Giants to get off the field on third down. Offenses will likely keep going back to that well until the Giants show that they can defend those plays without having to sell out.
If the Giants can keep the Redskins' offense from consistently having a short yardage downs to work with, they can then bring pressure to manufacture a pass rush and attempt to force Cousins into making a mistake, throwing the ball away, or perhaps even get a sack.
But it all starts up front, with the Giants stopping the run.